damnum absque injuria

December 31, 2002

Stella Award Nomination?

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 3:22 pm

I’d like to nominate Jack Ass, formely known as Bob Craft, who is now suing Viacom for defamation over the TV show and movie that bear his name. One really has to wonder how it is possible to defame the character of anybody who would change his name to “Jack Ass.” For those who haven’t seen the movie yet, it’s got to be the dumbest thing I’ve seen on the silver screen since Beavis and Butt-Head Do America. In other words, it’s a must see.

The only good news to report on this front is that according to the New Yorker, Mr. Ass has brought the case in pro per because he was unable to find a lawyer willing to take the case. Howard Bashman wonders whether to be proud of this fact or ashamed that it was considered newsworthy. I say, a bit of both. There is some comfort to be had from knowing that the old joke about the difference between lawyers and laboratory rats (that there are some things a rat won’t do) isn’t quite true.

Concerning the headline: for those unfamiliar with the Stella Awards, are named after Stella Liebeck, who sued the McDonald’s Corporation for $2.9 million over injuries she sustained after spilling coffee on herself. The Stella Awards, which are not to be confused with the fake Stella Awards that you might have received by email, appear to require only that the Stella-inspired case be brought, not that the plaintiff actually prevail. By those rules, Mr. Ass should certainly qualify. If it were up to me, though, he wouldn’t, as the award would be reserved for those who, like Liebeck, prevailed at at least the trial court level. Then again, my approach would sharply limit the number of awards that could be given – I hope.

Ninth Circuit, Nine Lives

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 1:03 pm

In a front-page story, the 12/24/02 Los Angeles Daily Journal (not available online) reports that a number of controversial court decisions may rekindle the debate over splitting the nation’s largest, most ideologically tainted, and most frequently reversed circuit. Two cases in particular are cited: Judge Goodwin’s ruling on the constitutionality of the Pledge of Allegiance and Judge Reinhardt’s apparent belief that ordinary citizens are not “people” within the meaning of the Second Amendment. Based on the controversy surrounding these cases and certain others, author Pamela MacLean concludes that a new push may be coming to split the circuit in two. She also attempts, unsuccessfully, to rebut the popular perception that the court is ideologically skewed to the left:

The circuit continues to have a reputation as a liberal one, where the influence of liberal Democratic judges on the circuit has not waned. However, many of the 14 Clinton appointees to the bench have proved a moderating influence on the generally liberal Carter appointees of the 1970s.

Got it? We’re not all Carter Democrats here, some of us are Clinton Democrats! This faux inclusiveness is reminiscent of the redneck bar in The Blues Brothers, whose owner proudly announced that they play “both” kinds of music: country and western.

Returning to the question of whether the Ninth Circuit will be split, let’s just say that I’ll believe it when I see it. As MacLean notes in the article, efforts to divide the circuit have been brewing for 30 years, but thus far seem to have gone nowhere. Conservative critics of the circuit may share some of the blame for this. By wearing their ideological objections to the court rulings on their sleeves, they leave themselves wide open to charges that their proposals to split the circuit are nothing more than an unwarranted political attack on the independence of the judiciary as an institution. This may be one of the main reasons why past attempts to split the Ninth Circuit have failed.

As to whether such a split would be desirable, I tend to favor the concept on purely administrative reasons. I’m as quick as anyone to criticize many of the Ninth Circuit’s decisions on their merits, but I am not convinced that simply dividing the circuit will do anything to address these concerns. For all I know, we might just end up with two smaller versions of what we have now!

If You Thought the “Mother” of All Battles Was Bad, Just Wait Till You Meet Her Children

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:24 am

Or so the Iraqi regime would have us believe. According to Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, they weren’t really trying to beat us in 1991, but this time around, they will. I’m already shaking in my boots.

Or Maybe Not

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 11:21 am

I’m not sure how long I can stay off the topic of the Boalt scandal now that it has gotten me instapundit(t)ed. Glenn’s link has only been up about 15 minutes, and I’ve already received almost double the normal daily traffic. To all of Glenn’s readers, welcome!

Positively the Last Thing I’ll Ever Post About the Boalt Controversy (I Think)

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 9:55 am

Contrary to the implications of Friday’s post, the Daily Journal article wasn’t confined to San Francisco; it ran in the Los Angeles Daily Journal as well. On the upside, the L.A. version had a much more reasonable headline (“Internet Users Weigh in on Controversy Over Boalt Hall Dean”) than its San Francisco counterpart (“Boalt Sex Scandal Takes a Spiteful Turn on the Internet”). Perhaps this reflects the fact that the only truly spiteful statement appearing in the article – attorney Laura Stevens’s characterization of Erin, Stefan and/or me as “vile” – wasn’t made over the Internet. Then again, maybe the differing headlines reflect the fact that while Los Angeles is still a liberal town, it’s not so ultraliberal as to regard terms like “spite” or “hate” as synonyms for “dissent.”

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December 30, 2002

But That’s No Ordinary Rabbit!

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 5:40 pm

If you haven’t already checked this site out by now, do it now. Thanks to Glenn Reynolds and Steven Den Beste for the link.

Today is the Fourth Day of the Rest of My Life

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 12:01 pm

At home, I’ve used Windows XP since it was released. On Friday, my workstation at work was updated to Windows 2000, making Thursday the last day in which MS-DOS or Windows 3.0/3.1/95/98/MEMEMEME will have any relevance to my life whatsoever. I know, to you Mac users it sounds like this day came far too late. I’m sure both Amiga users feel the same way.

December 29, 2002

Good Cop, Bad Cop

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 4:17 pm

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder may have done for his country’s international relations what Gray Davis has done for his (and, alas, my) state’s power industry, but now the A.P. reports that Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Joschka Fischer refuses to rule out German particaption in a war against Iraq. Schröder himself remains silent on the issue, effectively standing by his original promise/threat to stay out of the Iraqi conflict no matter what.

There are at least two ironic twists on this good-cop-bad-cop game. First, Schröder and Fischer’s respective party affiliations suggest that if anybody should be playing the role of pacifist/anti-American bad cop, it ought to be Fischer, the Green, not Schröder, the SPD “moderate.” Second, a state-by-state analysis of the 2002 election suggests that had Germany not reunified at the time it did (with support from the U.S. but opposition from the other three occupying forces peacekeeping nations – and with tepid support, at best, from Schröder’s own SPD at the time), Schröder and his party probably would not have won the election at all.

Thanks to Stefan Sharkansky for the link – and for the original observation that Schröder’s 2002 re-election was a regional victory.

Protecting Consumers From Themselves

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 2:01 pm

Ever wonder why it’s so expensive to refinance your mortgage? Ruth Simon of the Wall Street Journal has a real eye-opener. While the Wall Street Journal itself is not available on the web without a paid subscription, this particular article is. Read it in its entirety.

December 27, 2002

Stop and Fisk

Filed under:   by Xrlq @ 2:10 pm

Stefan Sharkansky delivers something of a fisking of John Roemer’s article that recently ran in the San Francisco Daily Journal concerning the Boalt debacle. Roemer attempted to contact me for that article as well. My guess is that this had gotten his attention, possibly as a result of Erin’s link. (Thanks, Erin!) I did attempt to get back to Mr. Roemer, but he never called back, so I assume he was finished with his article by then. Judging from Stefan’s experience and from the excerpts of the article that he posted, it’s probably just as well.

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